Klamath Falls City Schools district is sending upward of 6,000 mailers to alert alumni of Klamath Union High School to “save the date” for a celebration.
School officials are planning a long list of activities to celebrate the completed renovation of KU, which coincides with Homecoming weekend Oct. 4-6.
District officials are also putting an emphasis on acknowledging those who contributed to the roughly $49.5 million renovation project.
“It is a very big deal for our community,” Hillyer said. “It’s only once every 100 years that our city has either a remodeled or a new high school so it’s quite a big event in the history of our community.
“It’s been about a five-year haul,” Hillyer added. “It has been a labor of love to be sure.”
Among the weekend events, the district will host a reception for Academy Award-winner and 1946 KU graduate James Ivory.
Ivory is said to be attending the ribbon-cutting for the naming of the arts center, according to schools officials.
Ivory could not be reached by press time.
His name will be placed on the west side of the arts center building to honor his accomplishments, which includes being the oldest filmmaker recipient of an Academy Award for the adaptation of “Call Me By Your Name.”
Ivory will also be on hand for a reception and a question and answer session Saturday, Oct. 5.
Hillyer said he hopes the events are also a way to draw in alumni from all over the country to KU. He hopes a more organized effort can be formed to connect KU alumni into the future, such as through an official alumni association.
“What we have right now is a disjointed effort,” Hillyer said.
“Each class does their own thing,” he added. “There’s not one overall umbrella alumni association like a lot of high schools have.”
“That’s something that I think would be a tremendous accomplishment if we were able to obtain that through this event.”
Hillyer said crews will likely start moving furniture into classrooms and the cafeteria in the renovated arts building the second week of August. Finishing touches on the new theater, including the stage and retractable seats, are hoped to be installed by mid-September.
“We’ll be finalizing the landscaping also during mid-September,” Hillyer said.
The renovation project was initially funded through a $36 million bond passed in 2014, according to a previous H&N story. Of that bond amount, $34.2 million was set aside for KU renovations, $500,000 for technical upgrades, and initially $1.3 million for projects at other schools in the city district.
The project fell short of funding to finish the arts center construction by $16 million from initial estimates, according to Bill Jennings, chairman of the city school board, as reported in a previous H&N story.
The funding gap was filled in by cost-cutting down to $8.5 million, and then to $6.5 million to finish the arts center building.
Currently the district has a $3.5 million loan from Klamath County to finish up construction of the project, which will be repaid over 20 years with about a 2.5% to 5% interest rate. The remainder is being funded by district property sales, according to a previous H&N story.